PROVIDENCE — Good goaltending, solid defense and timely scoring can take a team a long way, as Providence College showed over the weekend.
The #11/10 Friars notched a 2-1 win over #19 Boston College on Friday, then beat #6 Boston University, 3-0, on Saturday. Expect PC to move up in the polls on Monday.
While there were a number of contributors, Hayden Hawkey and Erik Foley are at the top of the list. In stopping 46 of 47 shots over two nights, Hawkey provided the kind of stout play that Nate Leaman has been looking for. Up front, Foley scored a big-time goal each night.
“We’re a young team learning to win. It’s a good weekend for us but it’s still very early in the year. We’ve got to keep growing and get better,” Leaman said on Saturday night.
Here are some quick hits on the weekend:
After three subpar games, Hawkey took some heat from Leaman in my Friday column in The Providence Journal. The junior netminder responded in the best possible way.
“I thought (Friday) night in the first period (Hawkey) was outstanding for our team because BC had really good push. We were a fragile team in that first period last night and Hayden kind of kept us in there and we got to the locker room only down one and were able to regroup. He was excellent,” Leaman said.
Back after missing a couple of games with an upper-body injury, Foley had his power game going, showing off his blistering wrist shot and beating his World Junior teammates Joseph Woll of BC and Jake Oettinger of BU.
“It’s nice to have him healthy and back in our lineup. He’s a game-changer for us,” said Leaman.
“The goal he scored (Friday) night was a game changer, got our bench going. Obviously, getting that second goal for us tonight, it was a heck of a play, a great shot. He had to beat a big-time goaltender on that goal. He can do it.”
STRONG START FOR BRYSON
Sophomore defenseman Jacob Bryson has been PC’s best player through seven games. He retrieves pucks, defends and plays the point on the power play. Listed at 5-9 and 177 pounds, the Buffalo fourth-round pick has five assists so far.
“He’s a very smart player. He’s got excellent feet. His breakout decisions are outstanding,” said Leaman.
“The best thing about him is he brings a great level of poise to our bench and to our team. He’s a guy that we’re going to have to put a letter on his jersey because that’s what he means to our team, even though he’s a sophomore.
“He settles our team down. He goes out and makes plays. I would like him to shoot the puck a little bit more, so it was nice that he had six (against BU).”
DESHARNAIS vs. GREENWAY
One of the interesting games within the game on Saturday was the matchup between powerhouse BU winger Jordan Greenway and Friar defenseman Desharnais.
The two very large men — Greenway at 6-5 and Desharnais at 6-6 — went at each other all night, and traded words several times, too.
“Vinnie played a good game. I thought Greenway played a good game. He didn’t come off the ice the first five or six minutes of that third period. Vinnie did a good job against a really good player,” said Leaman.
PC’s senior captain isn’t producing points at his usual rate — he has a goal and three points in seven games — but there’s no cause for concern, according to Leaman.
“They’ll come for him. Same with Scott Conway, (who) hasn’t scored a goal yet. Both of those guys are two of our top three in scoring chances for. Brian has to stay patient. He has to play the game the right way and not cheat the game and he’ll continue to get chances.
“He had a great look (on Saturday) and he missed the empty net on the cross-ice pass from (Jacob) Bryson. He shoots a lot of pucks during the week. It’ll come for Brian,” Leaman said.
A PRODUCTIVE MONTH
PC went 5-2 in October, with four of the seven games against ranked opponents. Not too shabby, especially with three freshman defensemen taking regular shifts. At the same time, some shortcomings came to light that Leaman and his staff can work on.
“Playing Clarkson, playing BU, BC, I’m seeing some areas that when you play at this level, there are things we can improve upon,” said Leaman.
“I thought BU played faster than us in the first period. The second period we played pretty fast hockey. We have to get better at that.
“Our D want to take a stickhandle or they want to stop their feet. There are areas where we can grow. When you play this level of competition, it’s great for us. It shows you the holes you’ve got to fill.”
THE BU VIEW
It was a tough weekend for coach David Quinn’s tremendously talented Terriers, who dropped a heartbreaker to #1 Denver on Friday night. Now it’s about getting ready for Friday night’s rematch with PC at Agganis Arena.
“We’re so young and mentally fragile. We feel sorry for ourselves in a hurry. We’ve got to get over it. Providence didn’t care that we lost last night with 16 seconds to go. Greatest advice I ever got from my father was, ‘Nobody cares,’ ” said Quinn.
“We get to play them again next Friday night. We’ve got a week of practice to prepare for it and hopefully shake this off. … We’ve got to move past this. We can’t let this get in the way of next weekend.”